David Celestra Tan, MSK
4 July 2017
The National Capital Region, the nerve center of the country’s economic activity, will soon be facing a “power crisis” sometime between October 2017 to March 2018. Or there would be a big spike in the WESM prices that will be blamed on lack of power supply.Or both.
All it will take is a confluence of events like several coal plants declaring downtimes due to “boiler leaks”, hydro power being low, NGCP power grid problems, Malampaya shutdown, and etc.
Then the media campaign will go on the high gear for the fast approval of pending MeralcoPowerGen projects (remember the seven (7) midnight contracts totaling 3,551mw). The energy family, the power committees of Congress, the DOE, the ERC, PEMC, NGCP, and DENR will also rise in unison to “protect the public and consumers” and call for the urgent approval of power generations projects, conveniently 80% of which are Meralco’s negotiated power supply projects.
Conveniently they will blame the consumers groups specifically ABP, Bayan Muna, and MSK for causing the delay in these negotiated projects. ABP for filing cases at the Supreme Court and Ombudsman.Bayan Muna for launching a congressional investigation.All effectively freezing the Energy Regulatory Commissions processing and approval of the negotiated contracts. The DOE itself is ominously silent on the issue.
MSK for its part feel that these 3,551mw of midnight contracts, all with project companies controlled by MeralcoPowerGen, the 480mw of Mauban expansion called San Bernardino Power, and the Metro Pacific’s purchase of controlling interest in the 1,000mw Global Business Power, which also now purchased 50% of the Alsons coal projects in Mindanao,will result to evident and alarming monopolization and cartelization of the power generation sector, something that the Epira Law had mandated the ERC to guard against as part of its motuproprio duty. MSK had accordingly petitioned the ERC to suspend the processing of these Meralco project applications and hold hearings first to determine if these projects will create harmful monopolization, market power abuse, and cartelization. ERC seems not interested in making that determination or they are too busy dealing with the convolutions of their suspended Chairman.
The Calm Before the Storm
All these could be part of the orchestrated calm before the storm. Meanwhile, the Meralco coal projects and their strategic partners continue to announce the pursuit of pre-construction activities like DENR and BOI approvals, award of EPC contracts, project finance packaging.
Why is everyone so quiet? This is the calm before the storm.
If the ERC is unable to act because they were the ones who extended the CSP implementation deadline that allowed these Meralco contracts to sneak in just days before the new deadline of April 30, 2016, it is curious why the Department of Energy whose job it is to assure power supply development, is staying clear of the subject. Instead they are saying the DOE is technology neutral or the cuter word “technology agnostic”. The Supreme Court also had not acted.
Power Crisis Syndrome
The power generation oligarchy saw it worked wonderfully during the power crisis of 1990’s. A power starved or threatened nation will beg for power supply at whatever cost or at whatever shortcutting of competitive processes. That’s the “power crisis syndrome” that now, 25 years later, is still being used again and again whenever they want to ram power projects through the throat of the hapless consumers.
The consumers can only continue to hope for a savior. Meanwhile we are down on our knees praying or begging.
Let us brace for the coming power crisis. real, imagined, or staged.
Let us act now before it is too late!
MatuwidnaSingilsaKuryente Consumer Alliance Inc.